Forests are a natural solution to clean water for all, says FAO

21 October 2019, Rome  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new guide based on the idea that forests are a natural solution to clean water for all.

Forested watersheds provide 75 percent of freshwater for human consumption, and 90 percent of the world’s cities rely on them for their water supply. However, only 25 percent of forests around the world are managed with water conservation in mind.

The goal of the new publication, Advancing the forest and water nexus a capacity development facilitation guide, is to help decision-makers, technicians and local communities to better understand the connection between water and forests and to consider them in an integrated way.

“Managing our natural resources with the forest-water nexus in mind is not only about an integrated, sustainable approach but also about addressing issues of human well-being such as water and food security,” said FAO Forestry Officer, Elaine Springgay.

The relationships between forests and water have an important role to play in at least nine of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the publication.

For example, zero hunger (SDG 2) depends on water security, which in turn depends on forests: they intercept moisture from the atmosphere, help form clouds and rain, replenish groundwater and act as natural water purifiers, providing clean water for animals and crops.

Access to water also affects gender equality (SDG 5), since women and girls are the ones most often burdened with fetching it. Taking care of forests can improve access to water, reducing the time required to collect it.

The new FAO guide consists of six modules on topics including how to monitor forest-water relationships and how to implement actions on the ground. It also contains practical exercises and field activities and provides learning tools, background information, key messages and presentations.

last updated:  Thursday, November 14, 2019